Ladies and gentlemen:
When this administration came into office in January, we initiated a major study of the Nation's health care problems and programs. That study has now been completed and the report, which has been already distributed to members of the press, provides the directions which this administration will move toward in the months ahead.
In indicating those directions, I will say first that I realized when the administration came in, in January, that we had a major problem with regard to health care, that the problem was primarily one of enough doctors, the quality of the doctors, enough hospital beds to take care of the massively increasing demands in this field.
The report 1 that I have received from Secretary Finch and from Dr. Egeberg indicates that the problem is much greater than I had realized. We face a massive crisis in this area; and unless action is taken, both administratively and legislatively, to meet that crisis within the next 2 to 3 years, we will have a breakdown in our medical care system which could have consequences affecting millions of people throughout this country.
1The text, "A Report on the Health of the Nation's Health Care System," July 10, 1969, is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, p. 967).
I don't think I am overstating the case. I am simply indicating that we are aware of the problem and that we are now prepared to take the administrative and legislative action to deal with it.
Secretary Finch and Dr. Egeberg will be here to answer your questions and to further elaborate.
I simply want to say, finally, that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and Dr. Egeberg, in his activities as our new Assistant Secretary, once the Senate confirms him, as it will very shortly,2 have my complete and unqualified support in this program which is now being initiated.
2Dr. Egeberg's nomination was confirmed on July 11, 1969. his remarks, Secretary Robert H. Finch, Assistant Secretary-designate for Health and Scientific Affairs Dr. Roger O. Egeberg, and Under Secretary John G. Veneman, all of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, held a news briefing concerning health care. The text of the news briefing is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, p. 964).